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Send Money To Kenya

This guide looks at the best ways to send money that offers the quickest and cheapest money transfers. It will cover how you can send money to Kenya, the benefits and undersides of the different options, and the information you need before sending money abroad. We will also highlight some of the top money transfer companies you can use for sending money to Kenya. 

Updated: 16/09/2022
Read time: 20 minutes
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Understanding the economy of Kenya

Kenya has a market-based economy, and the most prominent industries include financial services, tourism, energy, manufacturing, mining, fishing, forestry, and agriculture. The government of Kenya has an investment-friendly attitude, which has attracted international companies. 

The national currency is the Kenyan shilling, and at the time of writing, 1 KES is worth 0.0087 USD. Kenya has a GDP of $106 billion, which is ranked 61st globally. They had a GDP growth of 6.1 % in 2021, which was an improvement over the low 1% of 2020. Part of the GDP growth was because of investment in telecommunications and the construction sector. 

As you will learn, many top-tier money transfer services allow you to send money to Kenya. It is a safe alternative to banks that will enable you to enjoy low transfer fees and quick processing times.

How To Send Money To Kenya

Sending money to Kenya is simple and easy. Follow these steps to get started.

Step 1

Find a Trusted Provider

Our comparison table for sending money to internationally looks at your specific transfer needs to and from any country in the world. Use this to find a provider that provides the best all-round service for you.
Step 2

Register with your chosen provider

Most providers will be completely free to sign up to, simply requiring your name, address and contact information. In most cases, you’ll also need to upload a picture of a valid photo ID to verify your identity.
Step 3

Transfer Money

As soon as you're ready, you can start sending money online.

Ways To Send And Receive Money In Kenya 

There are multiple ways to easily send and receive money in Kenya, but these will largely depend on the provider you decide to use. Below you will find everything you need to know about the best ways to send money to Kenya.

Sending Money To Kenya
Receiving Money In Kenya

Ways to Send Money to Kenya

If you want to send money to Kenya, you can do so through different channels such as mobile money transfers, inter-bank transfers, PayPal, and online money transfer services. Let us look at each one of them in detail.

International Wire Transfers

Many Kenyans in the diaspora use inter-bank transfers to send money home. These transfers can take different forms depending on the preferences of the sender and recipient and the bank used.

You can make SWIFT transfers from your account abroad to a Kenyan bank account like KCB, Equity, NIC, or CBA bank. Transfers take from 3 to 5 business days depending on the country you are transferring from, the currency, the time, or the day of the week.

Banks such as Equity Bank and CBA banks have customized money transfer services that allow Kenyans in the diaspora to send to their families. For example, Equity Bank has Equity Direct, while CBA has partnered with Exchange 4 Free to allow diaspora Kenyans to send money to CBA accounts locally.

Money Transfer Services

MoneyGram, Western Union, WorldRemit, Transfast, Wise, Ria, and Xoom are some of Kenya’s top money transfer services. Western Union and MoneyGram are among the oldest, while Xoom and Ria are the newest in the country.

Setting up on these platforms is simple as all you need is to sign up for an online transfer account, pay for your transfer and send it to your family in Kenya. The entire process can take up to 30 minutes to complete. Western Union and MoneyGram allow you to send from physical stores or start the process online and complete it in-store.

If you want to pay for your transfer, you can use a debit card, credit card, or bank transfer. Some payment methods may be available in one country and absent in others. For instance, Google Pay, Apple Pay, Sofort, iDEAL, and Poli can only be used in certain countries.

There are three main ways to send money to Kenya using money transfer services: bank transfers, cash pickup, and mobile money transfers.

Bank Transfers

This method allows you to send money directly to a Kenyan-based bank account. It is a faster and more convenient way for sending larger amounts. Western Union has partnered with banks such as KCB, Equity, NIC, DTB, and Co-op bank to offer direct-to-bank deposits.

Mobile Wallet

Kenya is one of the pioneers of mobile money in Africa and ranks high globally. Money Transfer Operators (MTOs) such as MoneyGram and WesternUnion have partnered with Mpesa, a mobile money transfer service in Kenya, to provide direct transfers to mobile wallets. Over 33.1 million Kenyans have an Mpesa wallet on their smartphones and basic feature phones.

Cash Pickup

Providers in Kenya have an extensive payout network with thousands of agent locations countrywide. For instance, Western Union has 1,400 agent locations in Kenya, including banks. Xpress Money has a partnership with SBM bank to use its branches as agent locations in addition to independent stores.

PayPal

If you and the recipient have PayPal accounts, you can transfer money to your family. In Kenya, PayPal has partnered with Mpesa and Thunes, a Singaporean B2B money transfer service to enable PayPal transfers to Kenya. Signing up for a PayPal account is free.

Mobile Money Transfer

Kenyans in the diaspora can send money through Mpesa. For instance, Kenyans in the United Kingdom can visit agent locations in Reading, London, Luton, Wembley, and Glasgow to deposit and send money to their families in Kenya through the Mpesa International Money Transfer (IMT) service.

The transfer comes instantly into the recipient’s mobile phone, from where they can withdraw at any agent location countrywide.

What’s Needed to Send Money to Kenya

Kenya is a crucial gateway to Eastern Africa and, unfortunately, borders some of the most volatile and terrorism-prone regions like Somalia, South Sudan, and the Republic of Sudan. For this reason, transfers to Kenya are highly monitored. Therefore, the following information will be required to send to Kenya.

  • A government-issued identity document
  • The name of the recipient
  • The physical address and telephone number of the recipient
  • The amount of money to be sent
  • The source of the money and the purpose of the transfer

As part of the Anti-Money Laundering/Combating the Financing of Terrorism (AML/CFT) regulations, you may be required to provide more information when sending. However, this depends on the country you are sending from, the amount, and the provider.

Common Reasons for Sending Money to Kenya

Most Kenyans in the diaspora go to fend for their families and look for capital to start businesses back home. There is a local television program in Kenya known as Daring Abroad that airs on KTN, a local broadcasting network. It follows Kenyans in the diaspora, interviewing them and compiling televised reports.

Out of this and many other media and research reports, the following are some of the reasons Kenyans send money home.

Supporting Their Families

Households, especially from the rural areas, have little to depend on. They have bills to pay and food to buy. Kenyans in the diaspora send money home to cater to some of these basic needs. In addition, their remittances form an essential supplement to household income if any.

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Education

Though the Kenyan government runs a free public primary school education system and a highly subsidized secondary school program, tertiary education can cost an arm and a leg. As a result, those who opt for private and international schools because of quality have to dig deeper into their pockets to finance their education.

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Loans and Mortgages

Banks and mortgage associations in Kenya target households with a constant income stream to loan them money to buy houses. Diaspora Kenyans are an especially attractive target due to their high-income streams.

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Savings and Investments

Investing in Kenya’s real estate is one of the common trends with diaspora Kenyans. Some build houses that they sell, others invest through building societies and real estate companies, while some buy ready-built houses for rentals.

Corporate and government bonds are also an attractive investment for diaspora Kenyans. In addition, the Nairobi Stock Exchange and banks are constantly encouraging Kenyans abroad to invest in their tailored products.

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Medical Care

The government has a medical insurance scheme for both salaried and non-salaried Kenyans. For as little as $5 a month, Kenyans can access basic health care through the National Hospital Insurance Fund (NHIF). However, not many Kenyans can make monthly contributions, and those who need specialized care may be forced to seek treatment from private facilities.

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Social Contributions

Kenyans abroad send money home for community projects, weddings, and celebrations such as Easter, Madaraka Day, Mashujaa Day, and Jamhuri Day.

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Why Send Money with a Money Transfer Service?

When sending money to your loved ones in Kenya, using money transfer services is one of the best choices you can ever make. Some of the benefits of MTOs include:

Faster Transfers

In a matter of minutes or a few days, your family in Kenya can access the money sent. When sending money for emergencies or payments with deadlines such as loans, speed is of the essence.

Geographical Spread

Transfer services such as Western Union, Money Gram and WorldRemit support over 150 countries and have hundreds of locations in Kenya where recipients can collect their money. Such a spread ensures penetration and service availability to all form Lodwar in the northern part of Kenya to Diani in the south coast.

Low Cost

Compared to banks, money transfer services charge a fraction of the cost. For instance, sending $2,999 using Xoom costs only $2.99 in transaction fees. With such a pricing structure, you can send more money for less.

Multi-Currency Support

Whether you are sending in U.S. dollar, sterling pounds, the Euro or dirham, money transfer service providers can exchange the currency for you so that your loved ones can receive the money in their preferred currency.

Simple to Set Up

Signing up for an account, paying for your transfer and sending to your family and relatives is a smooth process. It takes about 30 minutes from start to finish. In banks, you may have to spend a longer time in verifications and Know Your Customer (KYC) procedures before you send.

Favourable Exchange Rate

Most MTOs use the mid-market exchange rate. This rate is halfway between the Buy and Sell rates. It is the real rate and even if the provider adds a small margin, it still remains competitive. You get more Kenya shillings per unit of the source currency.

Things to Consider When Sending Money to Kenya

There are three main things you should think about as you send money to Kenya: taxation, sending limits imposed by Mpesa, and anti-money laundering regulations enforced by the Central Bank of Kenya.

  • Taxation- According to the Tax Procedures Act 2017, inflows from the diaspora should be declared for tax purposes. Where the inflows represent business earnings, they may be taxed according to the Income Tax Act. Cases of double taxation will be decided based on existing agreements between Kenya and other countries.
  • Mpesa Limits – The maximum amount you can send or receive to an Mpesa Wallet is $700 per transaction, and the daily limit is $1,400. The maximum amount the Mpesa mobile wallet can hold at any given time is $1,000. Sending amounts above these limits will cause the transaction to fail.
  • Central Bank of Kenya Anti-Money Laundering Controls- According to the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA), under direction from the Central Bank of Kenya, any bank transactions between $10,000 and $100,000 must be authorized by the branch manager. Transactions between $100,001 and $200,000 must be authorized by a senior manager or the regional branch manager. Transactions above $200,000 must be approved by the director or head of branch banking. In addition, the central bank requires full disclosure for transfers exceeding $10,000, whether domestic or international. 

Having the correct information when sending or receiving money in Kenya can save you a lot of inconveniences and costs. Ensure that you compare the fees and exchange rates used across the different providers for the best deal.

Top 3 companies for sending money to Kenya

We understand that choosing a top-tier transfer provider can be time-consuming. Therefore, we have researched to find the best options. Below are three reliable and trustworthy companies for sending money to Kenya. 

1. Azimo

Azimo does not have a minimum transfer amount requirement. Therefore, you can send as little as $1 to over 200 countries, and Kenya is among them. The combination of low fees and good FX rates means you get a good deal when sending money with Azimo. In addition, their fees structure works on a variable pricing model, so small and large transfers have an appropriate cost. 

Azimo’s interactive platform has been designed for simplicity and convenience. Beginners can get started and understand the process of sending money without a long learning curve. Also, there is multi-lingual support for customers that do not have English as their first language. 

2. Wise

Sending money to Kenya with Wise is simple and saves money on fees. They charge a fraction of what you would spend by sending money to a bank. Also, the fast processing time of balance transfers means the recipient can get funds within seconds. Furthermore, wise regularly matches the mid-market rate, so you get the best rate when converting to and from KES. 

The various transfer types of Wise means there is something for everyone. You can compare the cost and speed of each method to find one that matches your needs. Also, the easy-to-use navigation system is built for beginners in mind. Helpful hints are all over the UX to provide help along the way. 

3. Xe

Xe provides some of the best FX rates for many currency pairs. They support over 65 currencies and 170 countries, including Kenya. The live exchange rates can be viewed on the homepage to see if you are getting a good deal compared to other options. 

You can connect to the website in several languages, including English, French, Italian, Portuguese, Swedish, Spanish, Japanese, and Chinese. Also, their customer service team is responsive and provides help 24/7. 

Your Questions Answered

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Looking to Send Money Somewhere Else? 

Sending money anywhere else is as easy as sending money to Kenya. So if you’re looking to send money to another country, here is the list of the most popular destinations.

Jonathan Merry

Jonathan is the founder and editor of MoneyTransfers.com. Jonathan is highly experienced in the currency transfer market, having previously worked in the FX trading industry, alongside being an avid traveller. Using his knowledge he identified a need for transparency and further education to help people save money on their money transfers, leading to the creation of MoneyTransfers.com